#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Philanthropy, as the dedication of oneself and one’s resources toward the betterment of social causes, is a simultaneous expression of individual freedom and community interest. While alive, Spencer and Julie Penrose were only two members of a broader network of philanthropists and community leaders working for the betterment of Colorado Springs. Often, it was by joining with other area philanthropists like Alice Bemis Taylor, whose Day Nursery is profiled here, that the Penroses were able to effectively multiply their ability to make a positive impact on the community.
Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association (Early Connections Learning Centers)
The oldest nonprofit child care organization in Colorado is Early Connections Learning Centers, formerly the Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association, which has been serving the community since 1897.
Founded by notable Colorado Springs philanthropist Alice Bemis Taylor and thirteen others, the original intent of the organization was to provide child care for working women. Medical services were provided for children and daily fees were 10 cents a day for the first child and 5 cents for each additional child. In 1922, the organization joined the city’s Community Chest, now United Way. Alice Bemis Taylor then funded the construction of the Tudor-style building that still sits on Rio Grande St. in south downtown, dedicating it to her mother, and served as the President of the school for many years before passing in 1942.
Julie Penrose and Alice Bemis Taylor were friends, moving in similar circles as philanthropists and socialites in Colorado Springs. Working together to improve the Fine Arts Center, Colorado College, Penrose Hospital, the Community Chest, and other organizations, it makes sense that Julie Penrose became connected to Bemis Taylor’s work with the Day Nursery. The Foundation gave consistently to the organization in its early years, including $5,000 in 1947 toward the purchase of equipment for the school.
By the 1950s, the nursery provided care for up to 105 children. Expansion and the addition of an infirmary brought the number to 122 in the 1960s. The organization merged with the Child Day Care Center in 1973, opened a Home Network program in 2000, partnered with Court Care for the Pikes Peak Region in 2003, opened classrooms in the Harrison D2 and Colorado Springs D11 school districts, and ultimately changed its name to Early Connections Learning Centers in 2010. The organization now cares for more than 700 children each day in centers and affiliated family child care homes around Colorado Springs.
El Pomar in 1941:
The Foundation’s grant making increased significantly in 1941, jumping from $107,000 granted in 1940 to $403,697 in 1941. 26 grants were provided to 19 organizations, all located in Colorado Springs with the exception of Kirkwood Memorial Church in Penrose. The largest grant of the year was given to Glockner Hospital for the construction of the Penrose Cancer Center Pavilion. First-time grantees included the Pikes Peak Council for Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts Wagon Wheel Council, The Colorado Springs Symphony, and the American Legion.
Images courtesy of Early Connections Learning Centers
Spotlight by Corey Baron